Study: Young Athletes Take Longer To Recover From Concussions

By Aparna Zalani | CBS11 Special Projects Producer |

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Josh Zweydorff’s father still feels emotional talking about the day when his son went down — hurt in a soccer game.

“When I saw him lying on the ground… it was a big deal,” said Zweydorff.

His son Josh was hit when his teammate’s knee collided with his head. “I don’t remember much,” Josh said about the incident.

A new nationwide study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that soccer injuries are on the rise, increasing by 78 percent each year. The findings are based on 25 years of data. It also found younger athletes take much longer to recover from concussions than older athletes and repeated concussions can lead to “serious, life-altering injuries.”

More than 200,000 concussions or head injuries were treated in emergency rooms, or 7 percent of injuries. The rate jumped to almost 30 per 10,000 people in 2013 from just under 2 per 10,000 players in 19.

Gracie Klander learned about concussions the hard way. She suffered one while playing softball.

“I lost it in the light and it just came down and hit me on my head,” she said.

Klander is part of Con-Tex study conducted by UT-Southwesten. Researchers have found a lack of coordination or standardization of care and treatment of these injuries.

“Not much is known about the recovery of concussions in the younger age ranges,” according to Dr. Munro Cullum a Clinical Neuropsychologist who specializes in the assessment of cognitive disorders at UT Southwestern.

Additionally, researchers are gathering data about concussions in school-aged children across Texas; hoping to better understand their injuries, assess their treatments and then compare their recoveries.

And, already some surprises are emerging. For example, young athletes are typically told to sit in a dark room for long periods of downtime and rest following a head injury.

“If you take a kid’s cell phone away, take their TV away, take their contact with the outside world away, they may become irritable, they may develop symptoms of depression,” Dr. Cullum said.  Those are symptoms doctors say could be mistakingly connected to the concussion itself.

Another treatment related to waking patients up every hour after a concussion may not be good for all patients “You’ll just get an irritable person and you’ll just be interrupting the sleep they need,” said Dr. Cullum.

The UT Southwestern study will compare many of these treatments and determine what is best short-term and long-term. Click here if you want to participate in the study.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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